It is over a week ago when I race at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, but finally I manage to write up this post. This somewhat resembles the last couple weeks. I was very busy with my career change and moving preparation. This was also reflected in the race preparation. I didn’t do a proper preparation as for other races. I didn’t even read the race instructions until the day before the race. This meant that I even missed the practice swim. At least that was a wakeup call to finally do some race preparation. Surprisingly enough I wasn’t nervous. I knew I wouldn’t be in the top ranks and there was no pressure on me except finishing and enjoying the experience. And yes obviously my ego, which has to be satisfied
I was in the second wave for my age group which consisted of roughly 60 athletes. So the swim start wasn’t crowded which made me happy. As mentioned in the last post this was a non wetsuit swim which I never have done before in a race. Once the gun went off there was a little chaos and I tried to draft of some of the other swimmers, but I noticed soon that the pace was too high and I started falling back. It seemed like the whole wave was faster than me. I tried to get into my rhythm and focus on proper technique and a couple minutes later I overtook two from my wave. Soon after, I started overtaking a few from the wave in front. But I know that the majority of my age group was ahead of me. Two thirds into the race a stand up paddle board was paddling next to me. First I was confused, but then I realized that this must be for the first swimmer for the next wave and soon after I got overtaken by a couple of women. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last time during the day that some women overtook me. Unbelievable what some of them performed. When I checked my watch coming out of the water I realized that I was almost 5min slower than the last two times. Well, that at least explains why everyone was ahead of me. This also proves that a wetsuit clearly can help a weaker swimmer.
Coming into T1 I saw that almost all of the bikes of my age group were gone. Talk about motivation, but I knew that swimming was my weakest part.
I started the bike part “easy”. This was partially due to the hills right away and also that I want to get ahead of the nutrition game. I knew that it will be a hot day and nutrition could make or break my day. After roughly 30 minutes I started to work harder, at this time the desert was still a comfortable temperature. But this was about to change, after only 1h on the bike course started to get warmer and after 90 minutes it started to get hot. At this point I had consumed the amount of nutrition which normally lasts for 2h. So I had to relay on the nutrition on the course earlier than expected. In addition to that I also used a bottle of water at each station to cool my head and body, but the heat was so dry that all this water evaporated within a couple minutes. This was certainly a new experience for me, I am more used to a humid heat which leaves all the clothes wet.
I was enjoying the ride in the desert very much, this was a new experience for me. But I wondered if the venue change had the desired effect. There was lots of drafting happening. Sometimes in groups up to 15 people. And all I saw during my whole ride was two referees. This was particular annoying since in this race with so many good riders around, I had to be very careful and alert not to violate any rules. For the first half of the race I was constantly over taken (which means I had to fall back 4 bike lengths) and had to overtake people since I entered their drafting zone.
After 2h of riding my back started to hurt and I was ready to be done, also my mind started wondering why I ever signed up for a full Ironman which I would have to cycle twice as long, but I tried to ignore that as much as possible and get this portion of the race over with. I finished the bike portion in 2h 45min which is almost 5 minutes faster than planned.
Short and painless. Hand off bike to a volunteer run to the tent put on shoes and hat and start running.
I felt great at the beginning of the run. Finally off the bike and doing my favorite part of the triathlon. The first mile was awesome, it was mostly downhill and it felt easy. But then after the turn around point I had to run up for almost 2miles. What looked as rolling hills on the map is more or less a 3 loop run course which one direction it goes up and the other direction down. Especially the one section on Green Valley Pkwy were you can see the traffic light in the distance but it just doesn’t seem to get closer. This requires a great mind game which wasn’t easy on a course which is getting warmer and warmer. Early on in the race decided that I won’t walk before the last loop and suffer at least through two loops before I would give in. After about 2 miles, my quads started twitching and I noticed I was close to cramping. For the rest of the race I tried to relax and consume more liquids but unfortunately I was already in a dehydrated state. I grabbed two cups on each station one Gatorade perform and one water. I normally drank the whole Gatorade and half the water and poured the rest of the water over my head. My favorite part on the course were the ice water soaked sponges, it felt like waking up every single time I pressed them on my head. After “waking up” I felt like being able to push a little harder for a short time. Even with all this nutrition I was fading and I noticed it and to my dismay the twitching in my quads wouldn’t stop. It seemed like there was nothing I could do. On the third lap I started walking the aid stations. Maybe that was a self-proclaimed prophecy but at least I was able to go back to race pace after a couple of seconds of walking. Normally on the run part I am one of the faster ones. Not at the World Championship, people were running the same pace or even overtaking me all the time. And it was devastating to see how many people overtook me the couple times I walked. This was certainly not a run experience I am used to, and it was time to get it over with. I decided not to walk again after the last hill. But even then people were flying past me. Then finally the turn to the finish line. As a race preparation I told myself that I want to enjoy the finish experience and I tried but I still don’t remember much off it, besides giving Amy a kiss in the finish chute. I finished the run in 1:37:48 which was almost 8min slower then I had planned.
Once I crossed the finish line there were two helpers which helped me to get out of the finish area, receive my medal and then guided me towards the food tent. As far as I could tell every athlete got this treatment. I thought that was very nice of them especially considering how sweaty and exhausted we all were.
Considering the race itself: I really enjoyed it and the only negative comment about this race is the drafting and not having enough referees. Other than that it was very well organized and I would definitely recommend it!
Considering my performance: I knew that I wasn’t prepared properly. I was 3kg heavier then the last two races, didn’t sleep enough in the week leading up to the race, and hurt my back a couple days before the race which forced me to tapper more then I would have… These are not excuses but some realization which I knew going into the race but I didn’t account for them properly. I learned that I have to take even more care of nutrition in such a climate. But even with a proper preparation and nutrition I think I would just have been a couple minutes faster which place wise wouldn’t have made a big difference. There are just that many great athletes out there.
When I first saw the preliminary result I was shocked I was 91st out of 118 (by now 131). I am used to be in the top few percent in other races and now I am not even in the top 50%. I wasn’t happy with that fact until Amy told me a different interpretation of this result. “I am 91st on the world in my age group!” This sounds much better
I have one take away for the coming winter training: I still suck at swimming